Lanny Smith is a retired school teacher turned novelist and screenplay author. His work includes The Radical Ride and The Christmas Beacon, both inspired by events in his own life.
What is your writing background?
I’m a retired public high school teacher. I’ve learned over the past 25 years that students really respond to interactive, story-based lesson plans. I even noticed an increase in student achievement when I deviated from the standard lesson plan format. I was one of those offbeat teachers who actually enjoyed writing lesson plans and then seeing how they played out after a particular class. Make it interesting and the kids will learn!
What led to your interest in writing screenplays?
I’ve always loved movies. Film is such a powerful medium to convey a message. These days, many viewers are so attached to their I-Phones that they are almost reinventing the English language. People are actually able to process more information in a shorter time – but this also causes them to be very selective about what they commit to reading or watching. To me, this means that a script has to be engaging in order to get their attention — and to get your message out.
Where do you get your ideas for your novels/screenplays?
My stories are a mix of my God-given imagination and some personal experiences. I also base my novels on real-world events.
Tell us about The Radical Ride.
I’m glad you mentioned that. May I begin with a brief synopsis?
“Edgy news anchor Andi Stokes pursues the dangerous stories to broadcast that other reporters would never attempt. In her world, great things happen for her — all the time! One of those great things was a chance encounter with maverick surfer Randy White at Malibu Beach. He too lives life on his terms and both seem made for each other.
When a well-armed terrorist acts to harm Los Angeles, Andi catches the scent to bring this radical to justice. With the help of a few friends, Randy and the LAPD, she’s once again on the prowl. But unknown to Andi, this predator has some friends of his own, in the form of an ancient, supernatural evil. Andi finds herself taking “The Radical Ride” – a thrill-trip which can end in only one of two ways!”
I was teaching a Marketing class to some wonderful seniors the morning of 9/11. When the television popped on, I remember thinking oh no, another interruption. The kids and I saw some horrific images on the set. At first, I thought it was some type of history lesson but when our Principal came on the intercom and dismissed school for the day, I knew we had just witnessed something unimaginable. My kids and I were stunned! This tragedy was permanently etched into my mind. Almost ten years later, I knew exactly which real-life event to write about.
If you like the novels of Frank Peretti and Joel Rosenberg, you’ll enjoy The Radical Ride.
Tell us about your latest screenplay, The Christmas Beacon.
I’d be glad to. Please indulge me again as I provide a short synopsis:
“‘Do miracles still happen?’ A television news producer plans to broadcast a story at Christmas on this very subject. When she hears of a man who has mounted a tall Cross in his backyard to honor God, she travels to Florida to get his story. This man, Scott Weldon, is seeking a healing miracle from God for his cancer-stricken mother. Scott has made a bargain with God: if God would heal his mother, Scott would honor Him by mounting a Cross in his backyard. In his desperation, Scott erects the Cross before he receives God’s healing and a mysterious phenomenon occurs: the Cross becomes supernaturally illuminated!
This “miracle Cross” attracts a number of spectators to see this wondrous event. It also draws controversy from the city, the media and the attention of a menacing visitor. Faced with growing opposition, will Scott be forced to remove the Cross before he receives his miracle?”
The Christmas Beacon is a story I was compelled to write, partly based on personal experience. My mother passed away from cancer in 1981 and I always hoped to tell her story. I wasn’t as close to God at the time so unfortunately I blamed Him. She was such a devoted Christian — why would He allow her to suffer from this horrible disease? I’ve since learned that suffering is only for a season and God knows best! My mother is in Heaven and literally having the time of her (eternal) life!
When the novella comes out (July or August, 2014 — BelieversPress), I hope to take the readers through the emotions I experienced. Believe it or not, the story is uplifting and sure to resonate with the readers —- to inspire them to always trust in God!
What is your vision for each of these projects?
I’d love to honor the Lord and share the Good News through faith-based novels and films.
I’d like for both stories to make it onto the big screen. We’re already developing a “Sizzle Reel” for The Christmas Beacon.
We’ve been blessed by so many wonderful Christian stories. I’m honored to be part of a Christian family made up of talented artists who are just as committed as I am to share the Gospel. They are probably more skilled at what they do than I am — but we’re all making a positive impact for Jesus Christ!
What is your ultimate goal as a writer?
I’d be delighted to learn that people are touched by my work. If they can relate to my stories, then I’ll take that as a spiritual confirmation that I’m on the right path. I want to inspire people by teaching like Jesus taught — through storytelling!
A personal goal is to hone my skills for the better. A number of writers, filmmakers, actors, musicians and other artists have set that bar of excellence high for us — it’s worth striving for and I appreciate their efforts!
I’ll be attending CBA/ICRS 2014 in Atlanta this year and am also looking forward to attending the Gideon Film Festival and Conference in Orlando. Also, I’m honored to have received the Dove Foundation’s Seal of Approval for all ages for The Christmas Beacon (Screenplay). If you’re in Atlanta and Orlando, I’d love to meet you!